California Property Prices, Sales Slipping

Home sales and prices fell in California for the month of September, although experts note a decline between September and August is normal for the sales season. Prices …

Home sales and prices fell in California for the month of September, although experts note a decline between September and August is normal for the sales season. Prices dropped 6% and new and resale home sales were down 6.2%, with distressed property sales making up more than half of the volume. Short sales were also up for the month and foreclosure activity in the state has remained high, according to data provided by DataQuick. While month-over-month numbers are down, there was a year-on-year improvement for September sales. For more on this continue reading the following article from The Street.

Indicators of market distress continue to move in different directions. Foreclosure activity remains high by historical standards but below peak levels reached in the last few years, according to DataQuick.

An estimated 35,404 new and resale houses and condos were sold statewide last month. That was down 6.2% from 37,734 in August, and up 6.7% from 33,176 for September 2010. A decline from August to September is normal for the season. California sales for September have varied from a low of 24,460 in 2007 to a high of 69,304 in 2003, while the average is 43,939. DataQuick’s statistics go back to 1988.

The median price paid for a home last month was $249,000, the same as in August, and down 6.0% from $265,000 in September a year ago. The year-over-year decrease was the 12th in a row after 11 months of increases. The bottom of the current cycle was $221,000 in April 2009, while the peak was at $484,000 in early 2007.

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Distressed property sales, a combination of foreclosures and short sales, made up more than half of California’s resale market last month.

Of the existing homes sold in September, 33.8% were properties that had been foreclosed on during the past 12 months. That was down from a revised 34.3% in August, and down from 35.6% in September a year ago. The all-time high for these foreclosure resales was in February 2009 at 58.5%.

Short sales – transactions where the sale price falls short of what is owed on the property – made up an estimated 18.7% of resales last month. That is up from 17.5% in August and 15.6% a year earlier. Two years ago, short sales made up an estimated 15.0% of the resale market.

The typical mortgage payment that California home buyers committed themselves to paying last month was $964. That was down from $982 in August, and down from $1,055 in September 2010. Adjusted for inflation, last month’s mortgage payment was the lowest on record. It was 57.0% below the spring 1989 peak of the prior real estate cycle. It was 65.2% below the current cycle’s peak in June 2006.

Financing with multiple mortgages is low, down payment sizes are stable, cash and non-owner occupied buying is flat at a high level, DataQuick reported.

This article was republished with permission from TheStreet.

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